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Spending Money On Refugees Is An Investment, Not A Cost (Refugees Deeply)

January 15, 2018

From the article:

Refugees are often regarded as a “burden” that European countries are urged to share by accepting their quota, and states in Europe are accused of waving through asylum seekers so that they become someone else’s problem. This idea is pushed further by institutions hostile to refugees, who point to strained public services, and focus on costs of processing and housing refugees as they arrive. Hence the rapid rise in the number of refugees being described as a crisis.
 
These upfront costs do exist. Refugees often arrive destitute, sometimes in need of counseling and with little knowledge of the local language or culture. It may take some time before they are able to become net contributors. But taking a longer view, there is no reason to view refugees as a cost: they can be a benefit to their host countries, not a burden. Spending money on refugees is an investment, not a cost.
 
Many refugees are well-educated – for example, it is estimated that nearly half of all Syrian refugees to enter Europe have a university degree. Many arrive with professional qualifications, potentially saving their new country the cost of training people from scratch to become nurses, engineers or other professionals. In the U.K., training a doctor from scratch costs roughly $340,000, whereas certifying a refugee doctor is estimated to cost only $34,000 – one-tenth of the cost. Unlocking these skills will benefit society both directly and through their tax contributions.
 

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Owen Barder
Vice President, Director of CGD Europe, and Senior Fellow